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List of Articles by Joaquin Henson



Nietes not taking any chances

By Joaquin Henson
PhilBoxing.com
28 Apr 2017



With Roman (Chocolatito) Gonzalez’ recent upset loss in mind, former WBO minimumweight and lightflyweight champion Donnie Nietes isn’t taking Thai brawler Komgrich (Eaktwan BTY Ruaviking) Nantapech lightly when they battle for the vacant IBF flyweight crown at the Waterfront Hotel and Casino ballroom in Cebu tomorrow night.

Gonzalez was on top of The Ring Magazine’s pound-for-pound ladder for 17 months and was unbeaten with a 46-0 record, including 38 KOs, when he lost a majority 12-round decision to Thai relative unknown Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (Wisaksil Wangek) at Madison Square Garden in New York City last March. Chocolatito was decked in the first round and bloodied in the third by Srisaket who took 441 punches, including 372 power shots, in never taking a step back to dethrone the Nicaraguan.

Nietes said Nantapech fights like Srisaket and that’s why he trained extra hard for the chance to join Manny Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire, Jr. as the only Filipino fighters to capture at least three world titles. “Nanatapech is a brawler like Srisaket,” said Nietes in Pilipino. “He has a strong defense and throws a lot of punches. Thai fighters never give up. This bout against Nantapech means so much to me because I would like to be a champion in every division I fight in.”

Nantapech, 27, has fought in the Philippines twice before, losing to Nietes’ stablemate Albert Pagara by knockout in 2012 and to Froilan Saludar on points a year later. He has won only once in four fights outside of Thailand but with Srisaket’s win over the heavily-favored Gonzalez, odds are clearly no guarantee of an outcome.

Nietes’ trainer Edito Villamor said he expects Nantapech to come out slugging. “Donnie has to be impressive,” said Villamor who will work Nietes’ corner with his brother Edmund, Michael Domingo and Peter Cuizon tomorrow. “If Donnie finds an opening for a knockout, he’ll go for it. Nantapech is in high spirits so Donnie has to take his confidence away from the start.”

Villamor said Nietes was two pounds over the flyweight limit yesterday and should find no problem making 112 at the weigh-in today. He said beating Nantapech would be a bounce back for the ALA stable after Arthur Villanueva’s loss to South African Zolani Tete for the interim WBO bantamweight title in Leicester, United Kingdom, last Saturday. Villamor was with Villanueva in that bout.

“No excuses, Arthur lost to the better fighter,” said Villamor. “Tete is big for his weight. Both Donnie and Tete are technical fighters. If ever they fight, it will be a case of beating the other to the punch, whoever lands first.”

Nietes, 34, hasn’t lost since dropping a highly disputed split decision to Angky Angkota in Jakarta six years ago. His unbeaten streak of 31 fights is on the line against Nantapech. A 14-year pro, Nietes is far from retiring with a record of 39-1-4, including 22 KOs. If Manny Pacquiao is still going strong at 38, surely, Nietes, who has absorbed less wear and tear, could fight at least four more years.

“Donnie’s body hasn’t been beaten up so I think he could easily fight until he’s at least 38,” said Villamor. “It would depend on his body if he can go up to 115 and more.” Nietes started his pro career in the 105-pound division then moved up to 108 and now, to 112.

Nantapech’s record is 22-3, with 15 KOs and his victims include seven Filipinos. He, too, is on a hot streak, winning his last 15 outings to zoom to No. 4 in the IBF ratings. The Thai hasn’t lost since bowing to Saludar in 2013 and the streak includes a split decision win over Japan’s Takayuki Okumoto in Osaka last year. Nantapech said he’s confident of beating Nietes whom he described as “old.” Nietes is ranked No. 3 with the IBF No. 1 and No. 2 slots vacant. The throne was vacated by Filipino Johnriel Casimero who has moved up in weight.

Srisaket took the nod of two judges in beating Gonzalez because of his relentless aggression. “Sor Rungvisai, who was stopped in his first two fights but never again, took an astonishing number of hard punches from Gonzalez, hardly blinked and never stopped attacking his gifted, more noted opponent,” wrote The Ring’s Michael Rosenthal. Nantapech will try to replicate Srisaket’s feat tomorrow and Nietes knows he’ll have his hands full against the Thai.


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